Introduction

Boy with beer bottle

A lot of people tell you that alcohol is bad for you—that it makes you say or do dumb things, that you can get overly emotional or get into fights. But do you know why this happens? What is it about how alcohol affects our bodies that can make us change both mentally and physically? Here are some of your answers.

The human body is made up of multiple systems that work together and support each other. Just as a computer works because of the interconnections among its various parts—the processor, memory cards, and storage drive connectors, among others—your body’s systems work in a similar way. When an outside chemical such as alcohol is introduced into these multiple systems, it affects parts of these systems in different ways.

Ethanol (which will be referred to as alcohol), comes from the fermentation of grains such as corn, potatoes, fruits, beets, and cane sugar molasses. Fermentation is the process through which carbohydrates such as sugar are turned into alcohol. This process requires the action of a cellular organism called yeast. Yeast is also used in bread, to make dough rise.

As the alcohol levels rise during fermentation, the yeast dies. What is left is a combination of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Because of this combination, it is considered an “organic” chemical.

Next: Alcohol and the Human Body